Ireland supporter goes missing
WARSAW, Poland (AP)
A 21-year-old Irish soccer fan has gone missing while in Poland for the European Championship, local police said Tuesday.
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James Nolan of Blessington, County Wicklow, was last seen early Sunday in the northern city of Bydgoszcz after watching games in fan zones and visiting local bars with a group of Irish friends. Police have called in divers as part of the search effort.
Police spokeswoman Monika Chlebicz said that friends realized that Nolan did not return to their hotel, and he is not answering calls. They notified police, who are conducting a search of the city and have posted photos of Nolan on their website. The local media in Bydgoszcz and in the western city of Poznan have also shown images of Nolan.
Meanwhile, police spokesman Maciej Daszkiewicz told AFP that the 21-year-old's cell phone was switched off, while media reports from Ireland quoted his family as saying his disappearance was out of character.
"We have firefighters helping with a specialized robot for underwater probes. And there are also scuba divers," said Daszkiewicz. "Right now we're searching the forest near their hotel, we're conducting underwater probes along the edge of the old market and its surroundings."
Irish Ambassador Eugene Hutchinson was traveling to Bydgoszcz on Tuesday to be on hand for the search.
Nolan and a group of around 10 Irish friends arrived in Bydgoszcz on Saturday, making a stop en route from Gdansk to Poznan, where Ireland was playing matches against Croatia and Spain, said Krzysztof Schramm, deputy honorary consul of Ireland in Poznan. While in a bar, they probably got involved in a hostile dispute with a group of Poles, Schramm said.
Chlebicz didn't confirm this and said that Nolan's friends were still being questioned by police, but that there was no mention of trouble with Poles in their initial testimony.
The Irish group split up at night and when they next met, they realized that Nolan was missing, Schramm said.
Nolan studies environment engineering at Tallaght Institute of Technology in Dublin.
NewsCore contributed to this report.